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Sri Lanka Holidays

Sri Lanka Holiday Facts

Language of Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka has two official languages – Sinhala and Tamil, but English is widely spoken in towns, hotels and tourist sites. Most Sri Lankans have some English ability and road signs are usually in English, so getting around and shopping should pose no problem to most visitors.

Time Difference in Sri Lanka: Standard time in Sri Lanka is 5 ½ hours ahead of British GMT.

Currency in Sri Lanka: The official currency of Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR) with 100 cents denomination. Many larger stores and tourist site area shops also accept US$ (Dollars) in cash at a converted rate. Currency can be changed at the airport on arrival, in local banks in most towns or by many hotels’ currency exchange service (for commission). Many towns and cities also have ATM cash dispensers where international debit or credit cards can be used.

Clothing in Sri Lanka: As Sri Lanka has a warm to hot tropical climate year-round the most practical and comfortable clothing is loose fitting, light cotton wear. Cool cotton wear applies for most parts of the country; however the Hill Country in the central highlands is noticeably cooler, similar to an English spring with the temperature becoming colder in the night. In the mountains a warm fleece or warm wool sweater and possibly a light mac or jacket is advisable for chillier evenings and early mornings. During the day, though, a light cardigan or jacket should be enough. Visitors to cultural and religious sites need to be mindful of cultural sensitivities, so generally knee length shorts/dresses/skirts or trousers are advisable. Sleeveless tops or t-shirts are also fine unless one is visiting a religious site. Beachwear, bikini tops and short shorts should be restricted to beach areas only. Some of the higher grade hotels may require gentlemen to wear long trousers for dinner in the hotel restaurant but this is not a generalised rule so it’s best to check.

Eating and Drinking in Sri Lanka: Sri Lankan cuisine is a happy mix of its varied heritage and local produce. The end result is a unique fusion of Indians, Arabs, Malays, Portuguese, Dutch and English influences over the centuries featuring local produce, particularly coconut, and spices brought to the island. The essential national dish is ‘rice and curry’, but this description does it no favours as this can be, at its finest, a miniature banquet with a mound of rice with curry accompanied by as many as fifteen side dishes. Other tasty Sri Lankan specialities to taste and enjoy are hoppers (with an egg in at breakfast), string hoppers, kottu rotty (type of roti bread) and plenty of excellent seafood including a favourite, crab curry. As Sri Lankan food can be quite fiery you will normally be asked how hot you prefer your food before being served. 

Local Customs: Sri Lanka is a country where traditions and customs are held in high regard and great emphasis is placed on politeness and manners. There are a few basic rules to follow as a visitor, but as a general rule, if in doubt, follow the locals. Sri Lankans eat with the fingertips of their right hands with no cutlery, but you, as a visitor, would usually be offered some. You should always use your right hand when shaking hands, handing money and small objects, etc. as it is more polite. Visiting religious sites and temples: If you are entering a Buddhist site or Hindu temple, remove any footwear and headwear, and cover your shoulders and legs before heading inside. Wearing any clothes which features Buddha or any other deity can be considered disrespectful and insensitive.

Passports & Visas: All UK passport holders need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. Although it’s possible for visas to be arranged on arrival, visitors can be delayed in waiting for the process, so we recommend you do this beforehand. You can get a short stay visa online at: Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/ for a processing fee (except children under 12). Tourist visas are normally issued for a maximum period of 30 days. For the most up-to-date advice on visas, check with the Sri Lankan High Commission in the UK: http://www.srilankahighcommission.co.uk. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of your return to the UK.

Shopping in Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka has always been an important stop on the Silk Route, trading in goods from the east and selling their spices, gems, porcelain and handloom products to the world. Today trade is still strong, exporting spices and handloom fabrics, but in modern times tea has replaced ivory tusks.
Shopping centres and city centre shops are open from 10.00 to 20.00 on weekdays and vary on weekends. Some shops in resort areas may stay open longer hours and open on the weekend.

Tipping In Sri Lanka: GST is already included into hotels’, restaurants’ and bars’ bills, but it is up to visitors whether to give additional tips. When taking a tour of Sri Lanka with a driver-guide, it is normal to pay tips at the end of your tour to your driver, at approximately $40-50 as a guideline for your car. Where an archaeological or religious site is visited and a local guide is used to for your visit, a small tip is expected, and appreciated, for their knowledge and service.

Vaccinations: There are currently no compulsory vaccinations for travel to Sri Lanka from the UK however we do advise to check with your GP to see what he/she advises.
All visitors should ensure they have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

General Information

Festivals and Holidays

Traditional Sri Lankan festivals and pageants are held for religious or astrological reasons, and with four major religions that means 25 public holidays per year. Visitors should note that on Poya Days alcohol will not be served or sold anywhere including tourist resorts. 

The principal, noteworthy festivals and public holidays are:
4th February: Independence Day with parades, dances and games.
Good Friday: With a local Easter Passion play performed near Negombo.
April: Sinhalese and Tamil New Year - The Buddhist and Hindu New Year is a family festival during which presents are exchanged and traditional sweetmeats prepared
1st May: Labour Day, a traditional Bank Holiday
July: Kataragama Festival Hindu devotees fire-walk and indulge in various forms of ritual self-mutilation
October: Deepavali the Hindu Festival of Lights (equivalent to India’s Diwali), when lamps and candles are lit in Tamil households and families wear new clothes to celebrate.
October/November: World Spice Food Festival lasting 10 days of culinary events in and around Colombo
Christmas Day
New Year’s Eve

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Latest Offers

Sri Lanka Nature Tour - 2018 Holidays

Sri Lanka Nature Tour - 2018 Holidays

04 March 2018 – Prices from £1,540 per person, Bed & Breakfast, based on 2 adults sharing a room.

Includes

  • Flights from London Heathrow
  • 30KGS baggage allowance per person
  • Transfers with meet & assist on arrival and departure
  • Entrance fees as per the itinerary
  • English speaking chauffeur/guide in air-conditioned vehicle

We can tailor-make this itinerary to suit your specific requirements. Accommodation, excursions and durations can all be altered. 

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Highlights Tour of Sri Lanka - 2018 Holidays

Highlights Tour of Sri Lanka - 2018 Holidays

04 March 2018 – Prices from £1,379 per person, Bed & Breakfast, based on 2 adults sharing a room.

Includes

  • Flights from London Heathrow
  • 30KGS baggage allowance per person
  • Transfers with meet & assist on arrival and departure
  • Entrance fees as per the itinerary
  • English speaking chauffeur/guide in air-conditioned vehicle

We can tailor-make this itinerary to suit your specific requirements. Accommodation, excursions and durations can all be altered. 

find out more